Tom Krell, aka How To Dress Well, stopped by 100 Club in London this week for a pretty special show. What was planned wasn’t anything particularly unique for his performances. But things didn’t go exactly according to plan.
As a promotional gig wedged between a press tour for his upcoming album, “What Is This Love?”, the one-off performance came just under a month after his US tour with Forest Swords. Krell and his band appeared to be fairly energized, and whether this was because of that break or their return to London, they were ready to put on a great show.
Following a mesmerizing set from Koreless, Krell appeared, looking as happy and charming as always. Briefly apologizing for a “huge fucking beam” blocking the performance, Krell backed away from the microphone to compose himself. His smile dropped off, and he found himself buried within his art.
But four or five songs into the set, we were told that a fire alarm was going off and we needed to evacuate the building. We all shot outside for 15 minutes, as Krell handled the situation calmly and posed for photos. Firemen came out of the building and confirmed that there was no issue, and we were allowed back in.
Stunned by the whole ordeal, and the cooperation of the fans, Krell thanked everyone in the audience. The problems didn’t stop there, and the resulting controlled panic from the fire alarm caused technical difficulties as the band rushed to get back to performing. His second microphone for tear-drenched reverb fails to work, and the other musicians on stage experienced technical issues as they tested their equipment.
Not a trace of panic in Krell’s voice was felt as he began to improvise. Instead of allowing the setbacks to ruin the gig for those there, he handled it with an impeccable sense of grace. Joking with crowd, discussing his Boiler Room DJ set in which he said he’ll play lots of Young Thug, he readied two a cappella songs.
Talking about his experiences babysitting, he stated how one day he’d really like to have children, despite how scary the prospect seems. “They break easily,” he joked, before going on to explain how the first song came to be. Mentioning how he’d frequently wake up the baby whenever it’d fall asleep in fear it had died, the baby would wake up crying, so he wrote a tender lullaby inspired by the experience.
Morbidly titled “The Bad Shit Outweighs The Gladness,” the room was silenced as he tenderly performed his lullaby. It was pretty special to hear such a coarse showcase of his lyricism, no noise backing his angelic vocals. But, still experiencing technical problems, Krell had to improvise even further.
Claiming that he’d never thought he’d get to perform this live, he began singing the familiar “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. That’s right, How To Dress Well performed an a cappella cover of “I Will Always Love You.” Cracking with laughs in between the performance, his presence emanated in every regard; the resulting song was as hilarious as it was beautiful. If it proved anything, it’s that Tom Krell is a true professional.
Making the best out of a generally shitty situation, he elevated his endearing set beyond. Sure, the rest of his set was impeccable, but that he handled such an extreme curveball as well as he did, is nothing short of extraordinary.
How To Dress Well’s new record, “What Is This Love?”, is out June 24. Check out a brief Instagram of his Whitney cover below.